Otto DNA Findings (Summary of a work in progress)

16 Dec 2018:

I’m just so excited I could BURST!! I have been working many hours and days over the past few months hoping to find a clue to our OTTO roots in my DNA matches, and sure enough, patience has paid off. Friday I discovered two matches that link back to James Otto and Sarah Dunn of Wayne County, NY. Then today I found another that goes back to James’ brother John Otto and his wife Judith Newcomb of Naples, Ontario County, NY. This is a good start to confirming we have the right family!

I am attaching the back story — hopefully that will explain where I came up with these names to begin with. When the paper trail fell short, I hoped that we could find some evidence of connection to other Ottos in our DNA matches. Long story short, using Ancestry DNA matches and the “shared matches” button, I was able to find a network of people who share common roots with many of us. Because we all inherit different segments of DNA, it’s hit-and-miss in terms of who you may or may not match. I still cannot verify that the parents of our newly reunited family are actually the Mathias and Elizabeth seen in some online trees… that is a tantalizing clue that needs further work. But I can say with confidence that our Mathias, Joseph and George are part of a larger family, including:

Mathias, b. ca 1767 (Mifflinville PA baptisms, then Angelica NY, then McKean Co PA)

John, b. 1769 (PA then Ontario Co NY)

James, b. 1771 (PA to Ontario Co NY to Michigan)

Margaret, b. 1773 (Ontario Co NY to Wayne Co NY)

Joseph, b. 1778 (Mifflinville marriage, Angelica census, then McKean Co PA)

Susanna, b. 1780 (Arcadia, Wayne Co NY)

George, b. 1783 (McKean Co PA)

9/22/2018:

By the way, Cousin, I meant to get back to you on my recent efforts to flesh out the various lines of Ottos. I am now convinced our line is not necessarily from the Moravians of Northampton County PA, although that group had some Josephs, Mathiases, etc. I went back to the idea that our bunch may have lived in New York as stated in one of the histories, prior to Joseph’s marriage to Mary Brown in Northumberland (now Columbia County) PA and Matthias baptizing his children there. I found a James and a John Otto living in Ontario County, New York in 1800 so I am working on those lines. Interestingly, one online source shows a Susannah Otto born 1780 in Northampton County to a Matthias Otto and wife Elizabeth. The James and John I just mentioned are shown as sons of Mathias and Elizabeth Russell. Hmmm. So I am trying to find documentation that goes beyond someone’s family lore to nail this down. The tantalizing thing is that if this John (b. 1769), James (b. 1771) and Susannah (b. 1780) were truly siblings, it makes it doubly interesting that Joseph Otto’s brother Mathias named his first three children Susanna (b. 1795), James (b. 1796) and John (b. 1798). Our three Otto brothers COULD be additional siblings in this family…. Don’t write it down just yet until we get proof, but I’m on the hunt. I can’t find any record of what became of Mathias and Elizabeth (Russell) Otto yet.

10/5/2018:

This whole quest for Otto information was renewed again recently as we have learned more about DNA. Dad took a DNA test through Family Tree DNA back in 2012 but it has only been the past couple of years that we knew enough about it to really start to glean the benefits.

Anyway, I hadn’t really done any work on our Otto ancestors in recent years so this brought it all to the forefront again. About 10 years ago, one of our cousins found a history book claiming that Mathias, Joseph and George Otto were indeed brothers and it detailed their journey from Angelica NY by boat up the river to Farmers Valley PA. At that time, this information led me to find Joseph and family in Angelica in the 1810 census while George and Mathias were already in McKean County PA.

More recently, in 2015, I was back in Washington DC to attend the DAR’s Continental Congress and took a side trip up to Pennsylvania to research the Ottos of Bethlehem and Nazareth, PA. They were Moravians and the records reveal many of the same names we find in our Otto family (like Mathias and Joseph). But I could never find a firm connection, although I enjoyed the hours I spent there in the Moravian Archives.

Now there is a lot more information online and it’s much easier to research than the “old days” when we had to write lots of letters and go to places in person. Another bunch of Ottos from Pennsylvania were those who descended from Bodo Otto of Revolutionary War fame. But I could still not find the connection.

After my recent connection with a new DNA cousin, I again got out my Otto notes and studied what we had. One history claims the Ottos came from New York so I decided to follow that possibility. I found a James Otto and a John Otto in Ontario Co, NY in the 1800 census. Following up with those names, I found them in online trees as being sons of Mathias Otto and Elizabeth Russell. Also found a Susanna Otto birth/baptism record as the daughter of Mathias and Elizabeth in Northampton Co, PA. A daughter of our Joseph Otto has a death certificate that shows Northampton Co PA as her father’s birthplace. A history on Ontario County mentions James Otto came from PA around 1796 and had a brother-in-law Adam Learn. I also found a marriage of Susanna Otto to William Stansell. So my current working theory is that this whole group *may* be siblings, and children of Mathias and Elizabeth Otto:

Mathias, b. ca 1767 (Mifflinville baptisms, then Angelica, then McKean Co PA)

John, b. 1769 (PA then Ontario Co NY)

James, b. 1771 (PA to Ontario Co NY to Michigan)

Margaret, b. 1773 (Ontario Co NY to Wayne Co NY)

Joseph, b. 1778 (Mifflinville marriage, Angelica census, then McKean Co PA)

Susanna, b. 1780 (Arcadia, Wayne Co NY)

George, b. 1783 (McKean Co PA)

Mathias named his first three children Susanna, James and John, which I find interesting.

John named one of his daughters Jemima (name of George’s wife).

Joseph, James and Susanna all named daughters Judith (name of John’s wife).

John named a son Joseph and a daughter Susannah.

John, James and Susanna all named a son George.

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